Fresh on the heels of Justin Bieber’s bizarre attempt at a steampuk music video, and in the vein of such rockers as Primus and Rush, comes the news that T-Pain’s new tour and album will be, of course, steampunk. And to be honest, I could not be more pleased.
In the wake of Bieber’s attempt at the genre there has been a lot of talk about the mainstream destroying, commandeering or taking over steampunk, but those who fear a mainstream take over, I think, are missing the point of steampunk. It’s an inherently artisanal movement, you can’t package it and sell it as a stamped out commodity because that is so antithetical to the core of a movement that celebrates the DIY and maker ethos.
So what does this have to do with T-Pain? Well for one, the rapper hired steampunk artist, Thin Gypsy Studios, to make him quite the microphone. Check it out below.
Hell, I want one! That said, the music itself is not particularly steampunk, but let’s be honest, how much “steampunk” music is? It’s not so much a genre as a collective of musicians and artists who relate to each other under the same DIY, every-man ethos with an aesthetic that ranges somewhere between 1870 and 1930. Looking at the pictures from the show I see a bit of this too. More-so, I commend T-Pain for not getting (from what I can tell) over the top about it. I think he’s used just enough. Subtlety (or at least in terms of how live music goes) is something sorely lacking in pop acts.
Of course, I’m a bit biased. As I pointed out in our post on Bieber’s video, I’m a promoter as well. The bigger steampunk gets the more people are interested in it and that benefits us at Steampunk Chicago. But doesn’t that really benefit us all? Those few who buck at the widening interest in steampunk are welcome to hole themselves up from the rest of the world and complain that they were their first, but for the rest of us, I say we welcome performers, like T-Pain, with open arms.